Repairing a loose baluster: Over time some components of a wooden staircase are going to loosen up and rattle. In that wood is an organic material that can absorb moisture and then dry out again with the seasons thus expanding and contracting, there is bound to be some give eventually. Wood balusters are of two types when it comes to fastening; either square topped or round (turned) topped. Both types are usually secured at the bottom by a turned dowel that is fit with glue into a drilled hole in the tread. Older homes who’s stairs were built with the housed and wedged method had the balusters set with dovetails morticed into the tread. If a baluster is loose at the bottom either remove it and clean off the old glue and reapply using a modern mastic to compensate for loose fit or if it can’t be removed, pre-drill and drive a toenail through it into the step. For dovetailed balusters a couple of well placed pre-drilled nails or screws should arrest any movement. The tops of the balusters can be fixed with the same techniques. Re-glued when the baluster can be removed and nailed when the baluster won’t budge. Square top balusters probably are set into a plow or trough in the rail with a piece of wood (fillet) cut in between each baluster. If the fillet above the baluster can be removed, it along with the baluster can be re-glued and secured. A trim head screw can also be used, the head hidden by the fillet. Remember to pre-drill for all screws and nails so the wood won’t be split. A nail gun is great for these repairs. A repair on a round top baluster can be treated with a small shim with a bit of glue on it and driven into the hole along side the baluster. That’s an easy and quick repair.